rat-look Beetle | Speed-blur

BEETLE CATCHING

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If any one car defines a scene and a way of life, it might just be the VW Beetle. Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no denying the Beetle’s impact on automotive culture and their uncanny ability to win fans from both genders and of all ages. The people’s car in a very real sense.

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The recent Essex Veedubbers show at Battlesbridge certainly had its fair share of VW Beetles on display. You might think that a car that has been customised for so many years may leave owners struggling to come up with a fresh take on things…but you’d be wrong. Or, we may just have been blinded by the all-out funkiness, immaculate preparation and awesome stances on display to not notice the fact these Beetles were all old hat! But that’s probably not the case…

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Rat-look cars are another Marmite bit of car culture. If any car really suits it though it’s the VW Beetle. Some of them are that old that they’re probably rocking that style naturally too.

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Others take a cleaner approach to things. Simple paint, nice splash of chrome…

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… awesome exhaust. Job done.

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And you can never escape the SoCal/surf culture link when talking about Beetles. This matte grey didn’t over-do it though, which was nice…

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Car of the show for us was this stunner though. Again, you could imagine it bombing around SoCal, giving hot rods a run for their money. When you look at it closely the unusual front bumper is one of the sweet touches that help the overall effect

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But it’s the safari-style windscreen that is a bit of a treat, normally something preserved for VW campers. As far as we know this was never a factory option, but there are enthusiast companies that have created various systems to give Bug-lovers the look.

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The other bonus of the opening windscreen is people can clearly see your awesome aluminum bucket seats!

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From every angle this car just looks right, presumably the popped engine cover suggests it also has the brawn to back up the beauty.

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Against other Beetles the colour really stood out too. Anyone else think it looks like the Laguna Seca blue used by BMW on the E46 M3?

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Cream, on the otherhand, is a more classic take. Check out the stance of this one though…serious camber made more noticeable with the whitewall tyres

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Up front, there was some serious tucking going on.

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Something shared in common with another classic looking Bug.

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It might be ironic, but you can’t help thinking the tow rope wrapped around the front bumper might be there as a precaution – a precaution grown from experience!

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While not adopting such a grass-kissing stance, the simple approach of this car was appealing.

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With a race tuned engine and a few graphics with a bit of motorsport orientation, this is a Beetle built for function more than anything.

The old Pegasus logo from Mobil was particularly cool. They don’t make logos like that anymore!

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From concourse clean and classic, to low down, tuned and dirty, this show had the lot. Whether you do love a bug or not… surely there’s one here you’d be happy to have in your garage.

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RATS AND BEETLES

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I’ve been meaning to take a couple of phone snaps of this car for a while and, as you may have guessed, I finally got around to it. Most days I see it in the work car park, the guy who owns it using it in all sorts of weather…including snow. Now, the uninitiated might wonder why there’s any question of using it in crappy weather, because quite frankly being at all precious with a car covered in rust seems rather counter-intuitive.

However, I’ve had a few brief chats with the owner (including one time I gave his Beetle a bump start) and he’s quite proud of it. And I don’t blame him. I’m not always a fan of this rat-look – which was inspired by hot rodders who would stick kick-ass motors in beaten up shells and has since been adopted primarily by the VW lot – but when it works, it really works. And the fact he does all the graft on it himself is a particular reason for him to be proud… and a reason he might be a bit more careful with it.

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He’s added loads of cool touches all over the car, like that flying wings mascot on the bonnet and the splashes of very sweet black and white graffiti.

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The graffiti was done by the boyfriend of a girl he works with and I absolutely love it. There’s just enough of it to be cool too…much more and it might be a bit over-the-top. This sort of thing is one of the beautiful aspects of rat-look cars; you can try something out and if it doesn’t work just through some primer over it and try something else. Kind of like an ever-changing, automotive canvas for creativity.

Something else I really like is the mentally excessive welds on the rain gutters.

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And obligatory window full of stickers /roof rack combo is always a winner on a car like this.

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Actually, the more you look at it the more things you notice. That period spot light on the front, crazy aerial, oh, and baby seats in the back are just perfect pieces of the puzzle, so much so you almost miss the fact it’s slammed to ant-worrying levels.

Some people won’t like this or appreciate it, and the owner knows that. But does he care? Probably not, after all why would he? His car, his style, his enjoyment. And anyway, it has at least one fan…which is why I felt compelled to share the pictures.

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